The best video game knockoffs ever released

Every great game copies from somewhere, but these copycats took that to another level and got away with it successfully.


Video game companies copy each other all the time. However, some developers take this a step too far to the point that the game becomes identical to the original material. The crazy part is that these clones sometimes succeed - some even end up being just as popular and even more famous than their influences.

THQ Nordic still owes its fans a sequel where all four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are playable.

Below, we've rounded up the best video game knockoffs that succeeded despite being rip-offs of other titles.

Saint’s Row

Interestingly enough, GTA Online is looking more like the older Saints Row games these days.

What happens if you try to out GTA, GTA? Saints Row never could outsell Rockstar Games' best-selling franchise, but it did reach levels of absurdity. The latest game in the series, Gat Out of Hell, saw Third Street Saints members, Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington, rescue "the Boss" from Hell after Satan kidnaps their leader. The previous installment, Saints Row IV, wasn't any less weird as it puts players in the shoes of the protagonist from the previous games as they become the President of the United States. But, that's not all - an alien traps all the Third Street Saints inside a simulation where they must break free by literally hacking the system and giving themselves superpowers.

So, yeah, Saints Row is a lot zanier and ludicrous than GTA, which in some ways, makes it a lot more fun.

The upcoming reboot, which comes out on August 23, promises to retain the same flavor that made the older Saints Row games so memorable. Only time will tell if they will deliver, but we doubt the series will ever reach the same heights as being included in our round-up of the best superhero video games around.

Fortnite

At this rate, Fortnite will outlive the battle royale genre.

Fortnite might be the most popular battle royale game right now, by far, but it was far from the first. It wasn't even the second. Fortnite originally launched as a co-op tower defense shooter and survival game where four players would build fortifications and traps to defend themselves from a zombie-like invasion. But, after this didn't pan out, Epic Games copied a page out of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds book and turned Fortnite into a free-to-play battle royale game while retaining its building mechanics. The result is a multi-billion dollar budding metaverse that is constantly evolving and changing.

Fortnite has easily left PUBG in the dust, but it wasn't too long ago that the PUBG devs sued Epic Games for ripping the game off.

Darksiders

Even though we got four Darksiders games from THQ Nordic, fans will argue with you that the franchise deserves more.

The entire Darksiders franchise is a case study of how to rip off more popular franchises right. First off, not everything about the series is copied from others. The story and design are both very original. However, each game is a copy of another more popular series. For example, the first Darksiders game blended God of War's combo-heavy and gory combat with the exploration and puzzles of The Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile, the sequel was more of an RPG with a heavier focus on traversal similar to the more popular games at the time like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Then, when Darksiders 3 came around, audiences got a Dark Souls-lite treatment with a simple but technical and punishing combat system. Finally, the latest outing, Darksiders Genesis, was a clever dungeon crawler that we ranked as one of the best of all time.

TLDR; THQ Nordic ripped off good aspects of better games and tied them together well enough to create a series that just worked.

Now, if only the studio could get around to making that fifth Darksiders game. We'd love to see how much destruction the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can sow when they are all together.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds might no longer be as popular as it once was, but its still a lucrative property that continues to make its developers a ton of money.

Angry Birds is the perfect example of a game that copied another but become much more successful than the original.

Crush the Castle had the exact same premise as Angry Birds. The only difference? As the name suggests, you crushed castles using bombs and rocks in Crush the Castle. Meanwhile, Angry Birds put cut faces on the same rocks and even got two animated movies out of it that did fairly well at the global box office.

Bloodstained

The Bloodstained series is a love letter to Castlevania fans who miss the classic games.

The Bloodstained series is what happens if you take a long-time Castlevania developer that was behind the cult classic, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and a bunch of others who worked on Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX.

Igarashi came up with the first Bloodstained game, Ritual of the Night, in 2014 after leaving Konami. Igarashi literally sold it as a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night after he received several fan requests to make a sequel. The Kickstarter-funded game came out in 2019 after getting a prequel in 2018 by Inti Creates. Inti later came back to do a sequel to the spin-off in 2020, which also received the same critical acclaim as the first two outings.

So far, Igarashi hasn't confirmed if there's going to be a fourth Bloodstained game, but if you think about the rumors of Konami reviving Castlevania, it feels like it's only a matter of time before we hear news of the fourth installment.

Path of Exile

It's funny that Diablo 4 will want to knock off Path of Exile if it wants to be as successful as Diablo 2.

Grinding Gear Games might not have said outright that Path of Exile is a spiritual successor to Diablo 2, but it didn't need to. Anyone familiar with the best dungeon crawler of all time can see the similarities between the two games at first glance. Of course, what makes Path of Exile a superior product is that it didn't just replicate the Diablo 2 experience - it made several improvements. 

Path of Exile is a free-to-play APRG that shunned away from all the money-making schemes that made Diablo 2's true sequel, Diablo 3, a lesser and more flawed experience. The best part is that it had a compelling storyline and a dark but rich atmosphere as well as a complicated skill system that effectively lets players do whatever they want. In a way, Path of Exile is the direction that Blizzard wishes it took with the Diablo franchise.

With Diablo 4 set to come out in 2023, we're hoping that Blizzard has learned its lesson.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth is easily one of the best video game adaptations of all time.

Matt and Trey are oozing with creative talent. We can only imagine how excited Obsidian Entertainment was when the two approached the studio about the idea of an RPG based on the controversial animated series.

The Stick of Truth, as well as its sequel, Fractured but Whole, are parodies with the production value of a AAA title. The backbone of the games is their art style and gameplay, which Trey and Matt admitted was heavily inspired by the Paper Mario series.

If you're a fan of the Nintendo RPG games, you'll want to give the pair of South Park games a try. Admittedly, its humor isn't for everyone, as it heavily borrows from its divisive source material. But if you like South Park, The Stick of Truth, and Fractured but Whole are a pair of weird games that will genuinely make you laugh out loud. 

Alundra

PlayStation might want to consider rebooting Alundra and reintroducing the Elven protagonist to a new generation of gamers.

Alundra was PlayStation's answer to Zelda back in the late 90s. The PlayStation-exclusive series by Matrix Software was a Zelda copy right down to the blonde, elven protagonist that was on a mission to save a magical kingdom from the crutches of an evil wizard. Mind you, it was a brazen effort that worked for a while. In some ways, Alundra's gameplay was even better than its inspiration.

The challenging puzzles and real-time action combat paired well with its platforming as well as the way that the NPCs interacted with the player character, which, at the time, was not as common. Alundra even had this unique dream walking mechanic that saw players enter the dreams of other people and explore unique levels designed around the dream's individual characteristics. Finally, audiences loved that Alundra wasn't afraid to explore a darker story compared to its contemporaries.

Despite receiving acclaim, Alundra never came close to launching a franchise. The sequel, which came out in 1999, was nowhere near as successful as the original game and that was it for Alundra.

Hopefully, Sony brings the original Alundra to the PS Plus Deluxe / Premium classics library to give it a second wind.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Breath of the Wild was always bound to spawn sequels and inspire several other video games. Immortals Fenyx Rising makes a strong case for the best approximation yet.

What would happen if Ubisoft transplanted Assassin's Creed's open-world formula and its quest system into a game that played and looked a lot like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? The result is Immortals Fenyx Rising.

Immortals Fenyx Rising combines light-hearted humor with tons of open-world exploration and creative puzzles, as well as several features that might feel and look familiar to Breath of the Wild fans. In some ways, Breath of the Wild players will find some respite in Immortals Fenyx Rising and its DLCs now that Nintendo has officially delayed Breath of the Wild 2 to 2023.

With Immortals Fenyx Rising confirmed to be getting a sequel, we're curious to see how Ubisoft will set its budding franchise apart from its inspiration.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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